What is a Prenuptial Agreement and Do I Want One?
A prenuptial agreement (“prenup”) is a written contract between two people who are about to marry. It sets out the terms of ownership and control of the parties’ existing, as well as future, assets and debts, earnings during the marriage, and the terms of the division of assets and debts, should the marriage end in divorce or death.
Prenups used to be only for the super wealthy. Today, however, prenups have become quite common and many couples of modest wealth sign prenups, including for the following reasons:
- Transfer property to their children from prior marriages in case of death.
- Set out financial rights and responsibilities during the marriage, and if the marriage ends in divorce, those rights and responsibilities after the divorce.
- Avoid arguments in case of a divorce by setting out in advance how property is to be divided as well as financial obligations, including maintenance.
- Get protection from each other’s debts.
Marriage creates certain automatic property rights for each spouse. If you don’t sign a prenuptial agreement, state law will determine who owns the property obtained during your marriage, and further what happens to that property at divorce or death. State law may even determine what happens to some of the property you owned before you were married.
For example, in the absence of a prenup, a spouse usually has the following rights:
- share ownership and control of property obtained during marriage;
- get a share of property obtained during the marriage in case of divorce of death;
- incur debts during marriage that the other spouse may have to pay for.
If you don’t like state law dictating how your property should be handled, then you may want to sign a prenup. Doing so would allow you to decide for yourself how your property should be treated.
At first glance, this mode of thinking may seem quite cynical about your marriage. A second look however may bring understanding that in an age where divorce and remarriage have become common, equality between the sexes has translated into equal earnings. The divorce rate is at around 50 percent, and couples want to protect themselves. In fact, it may be a sign of good judgment to want a prenup. The alternative may be unrealistic and in some cases even irresponsible.
Regardless of what side of the argument you are on, having a prenup could allow both parties to enter into the marriage with more clarity and focus on the relationship instead of the finances.
Feel free to contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Azita M. Mojarad, P.C. to discuss Prenuptial Agreements and your individual needs.